Mark Flood and Jason Jaffray make the leap from Moose to Jets
Which brings us to round one of True North Sports & Entertainment Trivia: He was the first player to sign a contract with both the Manitoba Moose and Winnipeg Jets, he was the first to play in a game for both clubs, and he was the first to score a goal. The question is, ‘Who is Mark Flood?’
Flood was signed this past summer after a breakout season with the Manitoba Moose, recording 11 goals and 29 assists in 63 games. He was also an integral leader on the team that made their way to a Game 7 appearance in last year’s AHL North Division Final.
At the beginning of the 2010-11 AHL season, not many hockey fans in Winnipeg knew much about Mark Flood. But his reliable play and his pleasant, approachable nature, he quickly became a fan-favourite.
A year ago, to imagine that today Mark Flood would be scoring his first NHL goal playing for a Winnipeg based team would have been preposterous. “I knew there was talk of an NHL team coming here,” comments Flood, “But to play here last year, and play for the Jets this year, it’s a dream come true.”
It was that experience last year in Winnipeg that provided the foundation for Mark’s success this year with the Jets. Another year of experience under his belt, the opportunity to be a number one defenceman, and a year of working with head coach Claude Noel.
“Claude knows the way I play,” says Flood, “I know what he expects out of the players, so that experience last year has definitely helped me.”
The answer to round two of True North Trivia is Jason Jaffray, the second player to appear in a game for both the Manitoba Moose and Winnipeg Jets. Jaffray is one of the hardest working and most respected players in Manitoba Moose history. He sits in second place in points in franchise history, scoring 96 goals and adding 139 assists in 275 games in a Moose uniform. A fan-favourite in Winnipeg, he has come to embody the type of player that defined the Moose over the course of 15 years in Manitoba.
When the team signed Jaffray as a free agent in July, Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff knew what kind of player they were getting. “Jason Jaffray is someone that is knocking on the door,” remarked Cheveldayoff. “He’s certainly a familiar face here in Winnipeg, and is someone that given the opportunity could be a really bright player for us.”
Although there are some familiar faces in Winnipeg, the Jets are a new team. “Me and Mark were talking about it a couple days ago,” explains Jaffray. “You’re comfortable going out on the ice because you’ve played so many games in this arena and in front of so many fans, but it just doesn’t compare.”
The Moose and Jets might not compare, but there are still moments when those Moose moments flash in the minds of hockey fans in Winnipeg.
On November 17 Jason Jaffray made his second start in a Jets uniform, a home game at MTS Centre against the visiting goaltender Michael Neuvirth and the Washington Capitals. Neuvirth’s last trip to MTS Centre was on June 12, 2009 when the Hershey Bears beat the Manitoba Moose to win the Calder Cup in Game 6 of the series.
Manitoba hockey fans will remember Jason Jaffray’s heroic performance in that series, particularly in Game 2. Trailing 1-0 after the first period, Jaffray single-handedly powered the Moose past the Bears with a three-goal performance to notch the series at one game apiece.
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I was thinking about it before the game,” reminisced Jaffray, “Being able to have a hat trick against Neuvirth, playing in the same barn, but a different league, it’s definitely a cool situation, and not one a lot of people would have a chance to do.”
It’s a unique situation for both Jason Jaffray and Mark Flood; playing on a team that feels both familiar and foreign at the same time. “It definitely feels familiar,” says Jaffray. “It’s a little bit different because I’m used to being one of the older top-end guys, and I come up here and I’m thrown into a fourth-line role-player role.”
For Mark Flood, he’s earning his keep by being smart and cautious. “I’m just trying to pick my spots and jump in when I can,” states Flood. “I think it’s been going pretty good so far; I’m just trying to keep it simple and jump up when I can and join the rush and it’s been going good so far.”
It was that reliable brand of hockey that made a name for Mark Flood last season with the Moose. At the end of the 2010-2011 season, Flood was named the top defenceman for the AHL franchise.
It has also been that reliable hockey that has helped Mark carve out a place on the Jets blueline early this season. Flood scored his first NHL goal on November 5th against the New Jersey Devils. Flood was on the left point and slapped the puck past Martin Brodeur. “Yeah, it was pretty cool,” remembers Flood, “I was just trying to put the puck on net and it happened to find its way in, thanks to a good screen in front. Yeah, it was pretty neat.”
The change from team-to-team for Jason Jaffray is remarkable, going from being a top-end guy, relied upon for offence to playing primarily fourth-line minutes. “You just go and fill the role that is available and have productive minutes when you’re out there,” comments Jaffray. “I think I’ve done that the last few games here, and the more games we win, it’s better in my favour for me to stay in the lineup.”
“I’m a bit more comfortable in here because I know the coaching staff, I know the trainers, I know the arena, but I don’t think it’s fair at all to compare the two teams,” states Jaffray, “It’s two different leagues and a lot of different players. It’s only me and Mark Flood in here that are really familiar with this building and with the city. I made Winnipeg my home for five years; I bought a house here and spent my summers here.”
“When I got that phone call that I was coming up here, it gave me shivers, and is something that not a lot of people would have a chance to do.”